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Chapter 2

Business Sustainability: Importance, Initiatives, Impact, Governance, and Technology

Introduction

The survey has been compiled through answers given from 100 respondents, from
different businesses in Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Based on interviews done with various executives before the survey was sent out, we chose to focus on the following topics relating to sustainability in the questions: Importance, Initiatives, Impact, Governance, Technology, and the Future. Through compiling the answers, we have also provided a Conclusion and Devoteam Perspective, before ending with a Call to Action.

The study shows that two out of three of the surveyed companies, consider sustainability as an important area of their business or a key part of their strategy. In total, 44% indicated that sustainability contributes significantly to their success (Figure 1).

Figure 1: How does your organization relate to sustainability?

Furthermore, and to support the importance that businesses and organizations place on the work with the SDGs, the study shows that sustainability activities are typically owned either by the CEO or by the CSR Director of an organization. We have also noted that other roles like CFO, CTO, CIO etc. do not appear as particularly significant in terms of sustainability ownership.

Figure 2: Where in your company is sustainability anchored (who is operationally responsible for the work)?

FOCUS AND INITIATIVES

When going deeper into the reason behind the importance of sustainability focus, we asked why the companies and organizations focus on sustainability. Expectations from different stakeholders were the most important: in particular, the study shows that 53% of the respondents consider approval from customers, to be a very important factor, and employee (49%) and leadership expectations (44%) were also seen as critical. More than 40% indicated that it gives them a competitive advantage (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Why does your company focus on sustainability? – Multiple answers applicable

In addition, almost half of the responding companies said sustainability gave them a better public image, and the study clearly shows that sustainability continues to be an important branding factor.

It was also important for us to understand what the different companies focus their sustainability activities on and why, especially considering the importance they appear to have for our respondents. Our respondents indicated that they sought the biggest impact of their sustainability activities from energy, transportation, emissions, waste, and packaging. This is similar to findings from previous research covering the topic. Not surprisingly, Energy Consumption, transportation and wast in particular were mentioned as being very important focus areas to impact by the respondents (Figure 4).

Figure 4: Where do you seek the greatest impact of your sustainability activities? – Multiple answers applicable

Globally, sustainability can represent billions of dollars in bottom-line improvement in private and public organizations.

Currently, governance and tracking of sustainability activities and initiatives is still very immature, and many organizations are struggling to ensure a positive financial impact from sustainability.

Strong governance, coupled with data, analytics and visualisation, can have a major impact on an organization’s ability to reap the rewards of their sustainability activities,
making them financially and operationally more robust and resilient.